Recently, Geneva leaders ranging from the non-profit sector, Geneva City School District, and Hobart and William Smith Colleges convened on the HWS campus to discuss the successes and future goals to improve the community in what marked the 17th Annual Meeting of Success for Geneva’s Children.
President of Success for Geneva’s Children Rev. Jim Gerling welcomed the community guests and spoke optimistically about all the organization has achieved over nearly two decades.
“We want to continue to ensure Geneva’s children and families have the best opportunities for success here,” remarked Gerling.
Groups in attendance at the meeting came from across Ontario County to share their best practices, and to learn about the work of organizations such as the Geneva African-American Men’s Association, the Boys and Girls Club and the Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES Center for Experiential Learning.
President Mark D. Gearan addressed the group about the “collective impact” of the “Geneva 2020” initiative, which seeks to strategically align community goals and join together various businesses and institutions in an effort to increase the Geneva High School graduation rate, career and college readiness and literacy metrics.
Currently, Gearan and several Geneva leaders are in the process of bringing community groups together in support of the initiative, which will be launched this fall. “Geneva 2020 is threaded through the spirit of collaboration in this community. I believe it has the potential to form a remarkable platform,” said Gearan.
John Cromartie, vice president of the Geneva African-American Men’s Association, spoke to the group about the Life Skills program. The program is a partnership between Geneva City Schools and the Colleges that involves a three-week workshop in which students learn about the college application process from Admissions and Financial Aid staff members. During the third week, students hone their financial planning with HWS student mentors.
“Not only does HWS help students during these three weeks, but they make themselves available to help students throughout the year,” said Cromartie.
Katherine Cushing ’12 also joined the meeting, returning to campus to present research she had conducted on the availability and accessibility of mental health services for Geneva’s children.
“It was a great way to be involved in the community,” reflected Cushing. “Community service is valued at Hobart and William Smith. My research with Professor Gee allowed me to fully realize our emphasis on service.”
During her time at HWS, Cushing worked with Assistant Professor of Psychology Bernard Gee to perform the study. Their work studied a 2002 report on children’s mental health in Geneva. Through researching barriers to resources and primarily accessibility, Cushing and Gee concluded that a community-based approach would help to channel mental health resources and improve accessibility.
Cushing’s work with Gee is just one of the many examples of HWS students working within the Geneva community. Recent graduate Anna Hineline ’11, who was also in attendance, worked with Lily Farnham ’11 to research and compile the 2011 Data Report for Success for Geneva’s Children. The reports published by Success for Geneva’s Children have been essential for community organizations seeking grant funding.
“It feels great to be able to make a difference in the place where I attended college, where I made a home for four years,” concluded Cushing.
In the photo above, President Mark D. Gearan addresses the gathering in the Common Room of the Scandling Campus Center.